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October 31, 2013

Drivers, Riders Honored During National School Bus Safety Week

October 21-25 was National School Bus Safety Week. On Wednesday, SCR-I Elementary students made thank you cards for each bus driver, and when the drivers arrived after school all elementary students and staff cheered for them -"Bus Drivers, Bus Drivers, you're the best. Each of us says you pass the test. You drive us safely for all you do. Today we cheer, I Love You!"

On Wednesday, October 23rd, the Scotland County R-I Elementary School recognized National School Bus Safety Week (October 21st - October 25th) with a special ceremony involving the district's drivers.

"We take this time to show thanks to the Scotland County R-1 bus drivers," Superintendent Ryan Bergeson stated. "We are very proud of the safety record of our school buses and the professionalism of our transportation team. Please take the time to show your appreciation by thanking our bus drivers for their hard work and dedication."

District officials stressed that school bus safety is a team effort that involves students, parents, community members, drivers, and the transportation director.

The SCR-I transportation staff includes director Carl Trueblood and drivers Mitch Bales, Tom Fender, Elaine Forrester, Penny Holt, Jana Muntz, Danny Norton, Angie Ward, Thomas Wentworth and Jon Wullbrandt. Gorin R-III is served by bus driver Allen Garrett.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol reminds motorists that every week day across the state, young people are traveling to and from school. In 2012, three persons were killed and 353 people were injured in 886 school bus crashes in Missouri.

Patrol officials noted that Missouri schoolchildren are placed at risk needlessly when drivers do not stop for a school bus stop arm. It's important that drivers remember and observe state law pertaining to school buses and vehicle operation.

Missouri law states that on a two-lane road, if a school bus is stopped and displaying warning signals while loading or unloading children, drivers must stop when meeting and following the bus. It is only necessary to stop on a four-lane highway when following the bus. However, drivers must obey the stop sign, stop arm, and flashing lights of a school bus.

According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, school bus safety has been targeted by a number of law changes in recent history.

One important safety regulation, created in Chapter 304 of the Missouri Revised Statutes, requires that all buses over 10,000 pounds be equipped with a front-mounted crossing control arm which extends at least 5-1/2 feet from right side of the front bumper. The crossing control arm is extended whenever the mechanical and electrical signaling devices are activated.

The purpose of the crossing control arm is to prevent passengers from crossing directly in front of the bus in the bus driver's blind spot.

School bus manufacturers have also made alterations to the doors and handrails of buses, to help prevent children's clothing from getting caught as they exit the bus. With older bus designs, drawstrings, backpack straps, dangling key chains and belt buckles could catch in the handrails or doors, where an unseen child could be dragged alongside the bus. New buses are made so drawstrings and other clothing accessories are much less likely to catch in the handrails and door mechanisms, and many older buses are being retrofitted to make them safer.

Missouri school buses are required to pass two safety inspections each year - one before school starts in the fall, and one near the beginning of the spring semester.

MoDOT experts are quick to point out that A majority of bus-related deaths and injuries involve pedestrians - mostly children - who are struck by a bus or injured when they are exiting the bus to cross traffic.

Simple guidelines for bus passengers to follow stress a key safety component - always staying in sight of the bus driver.

According to MoDOT, children should stay at least 10 feet away from the bus (that's about five "giant steps") to stay out of the driver's Danger Zone, and should never cross behind the bus if possible. If they can't see the bus driver, the driver probably can't see them.

Another safety tip is "Don't hurry!" If your child is running late, or can't wait to get off the bus, he or she is more likely to ignore other traffic around the bus, or have his or her things get caught on the bus handrail or door.

The final tip for kids is "Don't go back! Teach your child never to dart back or stoop down to pick up items he or she drops near a bus. It's impossible for the bus driver to see a small child around the wheels of the bus.

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